With the baseball playoffs careening at warp speed toward the World Series (although Albert Pujols hit the "pause" button last night) and the most wildly entertaining Saturday of college football in recent memory, you might have missed it: I was featured in the "Scorecard" section of the Oct. 17 edition of Sports Illustrated. I am flattered the magazine's editors felt my recent foray into investment advice with TheStreet.com was worthy of an article. Undeniably, recognition provides a tremendous "feel good," but it also raises expectations to a higher level. So without further ado (I've saved that for further down in the piece), here are this week's picks.
strong performance in its consumer and corporate banking businesses: Service charges rose 11% to $555 million, while banking fees rose 23% to $385 million. In addition, investment banking fees rose 24% to $294 million. In addition, its CEO said there are no signs of credit deterioration on the horizon, and the company reported an incredibly low level of chargeoffs in its loan portfolio of one-tenth of 1 percent. That's how good these people are. Despite all that, the stock initially fell in reaction, trading as low as $47.28 intraday before recovering to close up 0.6% at $48.12. As did other traders, I saw that selloff as a gift to buy this great American banking franchise. The opportunity was all the more enticing given Wachovia's stock is trading near its 52-week low, sports a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 10.2, and offers a dividend yield of 4.3%. As the stock was selling off Monday I bought the January 40 calls for $7.90. Once again, you must use all of your weapons when playing for big dollars, and options give you the opportunity to leverage your bet. I am now in control of 1,000 shares of Wachovia until the third Friday in January for $7,900 -- as opposed to spending over $47,000 to buy the common stock.
Remember, nothing in life is for free. The clock is working against you as the January expiration approaches -- this is known as "time decay," or theta in options parlance. You have to "pull the trigger" when you get a nice bounce up. Take your profit and look for the next victim! (For a list of options definitions, please check out the
glossary for TheStreet.com's Options Alerts newsletter.) As the nation's fourth-largest bank, Wachovia is probably a familiar name to most readers. Today's other pick -- Metso ( MX) -- probably is not. But you have to look off the beaten path sometimes and this Finnish engineering company is definitely worth getting to know. Metso did over $5 billion in sales in the past 12 months and its revenue should continue to grow because it has exposure to the suddenly "hot" paper, mineral, civil engineering and energy industries. The reasons I got into car washes and real estate are the same reasons I like Metso -- -- the businesses they're in aren't going away and what they do can't easily be replicated. This company trades with a forward P/E of 12.7, posted return on equity of over 18%, has a dividend yield of 1.9%, and a very reasonable debt-to-equity ratio of 0.7. And as discussed on Jim Cramer's Real Money radio show Monday, the company hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser in August and could have tremendous break-up value. Barring that, the company has laid out a series of financial objectives for 2006-2008, including: Annual net sales growth around 10%; Consistently more than 15% return on capital employed; An operating profit margin of 9% toward the end of the period; An annual dividend of at least 40% of earnings per share; A solid investment grade credit rating. Yes, I would say Metso is definitely a company (and a stock) readers should get to know.
Unquestionably, most athletes, myself included, welcome recognition of their accomplishments. While the instantaneous gratification of being an ESPN highlight is undeniable, coverage in Sports Illustrated provides a different level of satisfaction. Athletic recognition usually starts in school newspapers, graduates to local, county, and city newspapers, and reaches a pinnacle when an athlete appears in Sports Illustrated, arguably the most recognizable and prestigious sports periodical in circulation. Again, I am flattered the folks at "SI" found my financial exploits worthy of mention. Understandably, some people will be skeptical about my abilities to be a successful money player, particularly when I am making suggestions regarding other people's money. Certainly, this is not the first time others have doubted my abilities, nor do I suspect will it be the last. This comes with the territory. The higher you ascend, the thinner the air becomes, and the more difficult it is to breathe. Precious few people can make the climb alone. Hence, it is imperative to surround yourself with quality teammates who allow you to flourish with your strengths, and help you correct your deficiencies. To that end, I know I have chosen "money players," including my mentor, Richard Suttmeier, the ubiquitous Jim Cramer, who in my opinion is the "best of breed," and of course, my editors at TheStreet.com. My learning curve has accelerated exponentially through my association with them. I continue to learn, because I must, in order to breathe the air that is already becoming thinner. It's as if I am a rookie again, playing in the World Series, surrounded by great teammates. Amazingly, I lived that dream in 1986, emerging a World Series champion. Could I conceivably be fortunate enough to duplicate that feat in another realm? You make the call. Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride!